King's Row held a place in the Best Seller lists for a long time; the author, with this new novel, proves that he is not going to write ""in the groove"". I found Victoria Grandolet absorbing reading, last August, when it was scheduled for October publication; now -- three months later, the impression persists, and its selection as Literary Guild book for January helps guarantee a good send-off. There is something of the atmosphere of Rebecca, but in this case Victoria herself is the ""Rebecca"" character, and not the frightened white rabbit of a second wife. You see Victoria molding her material to her own ends, playing with people's lives. Victoria had an inferiority complex built on the mystery of her own parentage; this secret she kept, when she married Niles Grandolet, Louisiana aristocrat, owner of White Cloud and Far Felice, storied properties of the bayou country. There's extraordinary build-up of atmosphere, the power of place and legend over people's lives. Victoria, brought up in a New Hampshire rectory, patterns herself after the grandmother who became more Grandolet than the Grandolets. She bore Niles a son, then cut herself off from her responsibilities as his wife. She buried herself in family legend and history, always playing a part, and bringing all near her unhappiness and unease. She spurred Niles on to a measure of success; White Cloud and Far Felice were brought to life again, but Far Felice was haunted by people and ghosts. And finally, when passion betrayed her, Victoria took the only way out, the way that put a seal on exposure. A fascinating story, saturated in the atmosphere of the bayou setting, and the strange family. In retrospect , there seem to be loose threads, unending channels of thought, a sense of frustration; but the fascination persists. And it is good reading.